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On any given day, or night, at Newtown resident Alyce Kallman’s Cream & Sugar Cafe on the Barnum Green in downtown Bethel, patrons are freaking out — then freaking in to immerse themselves in what the inventive restaurateur refers to as “freak shakes,” along with recently added “freak sundaes,” and even mini-freak dishes for the little ones.
Thanks to the explosive success of these over the top ice cream and candy creations, she is not only drawing publicity and patrons looking for a sweet tooth fix from all over the country, but seeing lines forming out the door of her shop even on weekdays… back in the middle of winter.
Nobody is more surprised or pleased than Ms Kallman, who admits she is not the first by far to trick up a frozen concoction, but may be among if not the first to take the idea to such an extreme. And now she is building on it.
“We started seeing that people wanted to get in on the freak fun, but they couldn’t come near finishing or even wanting to try and finish the freak shakes,” Ms Kallman explained during a brief break away from the creation zone where she and her crew make all the freak magic happen.
“So we decided to try freak sundaes that can have one or more scoops of ice cream, and the freak treatment with all the crazy toppings,” she continued. “We can even make a tiny version of our freak sundae for little kids.”
Kallman said the idea came to build her freak products from the popularity of her creamy milkshakes, which are so thick they almost need to be eaten with a spoon.
“We don’t add a lot of milk so it retains its flavor, but where we are so different is that we’ll make you a shake from any flavor we have in the shop, we don’t serve machine-made soft serve, and we don’t limit you to a few basic flavors,” she said. “We carry at least 32 flavors, so there is a lot of variety — and of course if people want them thinner, just ask and we’ll add more milk.”
Then she started experimenting by naming specific shakes, like the “Cookie Party,” which featured cookies and cream-flavored ice cream with extra Oreo cookies mixed in and on the top.
“I started trying to use chocolate chip cookies — then I put a brownie on there, and it became our Colossal Cookie. Next I’m hearing from my daughter that this is becoming a thing, so I start searching around and I’m finding variations on these big crazy ice cream creations,” Ms Kallman said. “But I wanted to make mine bigger, so I figured out a way to do that.”
What helped was the discovery of the handled Mason jars that the Cream & Sugar freak shakes now come in — or are built upon. But the “freak” movement at Cream & Sugar Cafe really came about because people started telling Ms Kallman that she needed a name to make these monstrous creations her very own.
“It was the middle of December and it wasn’t very busy, so I decided to start building them,” Ms Kallman recalled. “I tried a different combination of ingredients every day, and by the end of December, I started posting them. I came up with the S’mores shake, then the Crazy 4 Coconut, Peanut Butter Crush, and then the Candy Crush. But the Colossal Cookie came first.
“Then we added a piece of cake, an ice cream cone and donut to our Colossal Cookie, and we called it the Belly Buster and the Colossal Cookie went away…
“So I finally did that and it went haywire from there,” she said, then the prolific sharing of images of the sundaes on social networks turned these local regional desserts into a sensation.
For those with a slightly smaller appetite, but still craving the freak fix, Ms Kallman recommends the Brownie shake, which has two brownies on top of a cookie — the cookie is part of the foundation of every shake.
And true to her original tradition, customers can add any item in the store to any of the base freak shakes.
“If somebody wants a S’mores shake, but they want it to look like a Candy Crush, we can add cotton candy and lollipops to it,” she said. “We do that for when people are sharing and nobody can settle on just one thing.”
Then she started doing freak sundaes.
“Say you want to have fun, or take a cool picture, but you only want a medium-sized ice cream dish — you get a medium ice cream and add the Candy Crush topper, and you’ve got a mini-freak sundae,” she said. “And every age can enjoy these because we can make a one scoop sundae in a really cool dish and add the freak treatment.”
Then there are the party bowls — up to 120 (yes, 120) scoops of ice cream, with an imaginative array of toppings only limited to what may be on hand in the shop.
“We just had a girl came in for her 16th birthday with a bunch of friends, and she was also celebrating being ten years cancer free, and she got a 36-scoop party bowl,” Ms Kallman recalled.
A single scoop freak sundae for kids is about $3 depending on toppers, and an average-sized freak sundae for older folks is about $6. Kallman’s freak shakes range from $13.50 up to the Candy Crush Belly Buster for $23.50.
“Most people share them,” she said. “The idea behind the party bowl is actually economic for the customer. So if you are having 20 people in for a party, it’s much cheaper to get a party bowl with 20 or more scoops, than it is to get 20 individual sundaes.”
Party bowls are priced to order.
On any given weekend, Ms Kallman’s crew churns out 300 to 400 freak products, and since each is somewhat custom created, give yourself time to enjoy the building process. The shop even creates an allergy-free version for those with dietary restrictions.
To keep tabs on Ms Kallman’s creations and all the fun at Cream & Sugar Cafe, follow the business on Facebook, or just stop in and bring your appetite.
Cream & Sugar Cafe is at 7 P.T. Barnum Square, Bethel; 203-628-7349.